End of an Era

Learning From Experience, Pt. 6

I was able to sleep for 4 hours on Tuesday night, which was the most rest I had received in the better part of 72 hours, ‘stuff’ was already breaking apart in my throat and my fever did not spike overnight. The antibiotics were already beginning to have their effect.

Despite feeling marginally better, I would not be taking my son to his dentist’s visit this Wednesday morning, but my wife would go in my place. I was disappointed that I couldn’t be there because he looks to me for strength during times of stress, when he would be undergoing dental work that would require nitrous and a local anesthetic, but circumstances were beyond my control and – besides – he was just as happy to have Mommy there, I am sure.

While he was in a dental chair a few miles down the road, I considered the events of the day before, including my interaction with Dr Kors, and I recalled his initial hesitancy to prescribe antibiotics, our mocking of physicians who dispense antibiotics too readily, and my improving symptoms after antibiotic administration. Then I thought of my son and I became angry.

I often lament for the lives that my children may live in the future. There are solutions to many of the problems that their generation will face, but I still find their prospects sobering as citizens of a country with increasingly polarized political parties and decreasing liberties in a world with a changing climate and 14th-century minds playing with 21st-century weapons threatening enlightened thinking throughout the world. These issues, of course, play out on our media daily, feeding the fears of the insecure and ill-informed electorate (which is ironic considering its apathy).

And while Ebola garners wave after wave of crisis and headline coverage – a far greater threat receives little to no coverage whatsoever: “We’ve Reached “The End of Antibiotics.

In this linked piece by PBS’s Frontline, Dr Arjun Srinivasan says:

These drugs are miracle drugs, these antibiotics that we have, but we haven’t taken good care of them over the 50 years that we’ve had them…We also know that we’ve greatly overused antibiotics and in overusing these antibiotics, we have set ourselves up for the scenario that we find ourselves in now, where we’re running out of antibiotics.

We are quickly running out of therapies to treat some of these infections that previously had been eminently treatable. There are bacteria that we encounter, particularly in health-care settings, that are resistant to nearly all — or, in some cases, all — the antibiotics that we have available to us, and we are thus entering an era that people have talked about for a long time.

For a long time, there have been newspaper stories and covers of magazines that talked about “The end of antibiotics, question mark?” Well, now I would say you can change the title to “The end of antibiotics, period.”

…We’re here. We’re in the post-antibiotic era.

So…by the time my children are my age, a similar infection that allowed me to be treated conservatively at home today may require hospitalization and far greater suffering for them at a later date. That is no less scary than Ebola or ISIS…but the coverage?

I suppose there is not a large-enough ‘antibiotic voting block’.

(crickets chirping)


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